Margaret Court interview, video, Australian Open, record 24-time Grand Slam champion, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova
Controversial tennis great Margaret Court has hit back at two of the sport’s legends who staged a stunning protest at the Australian Open in calling for the arena that bears her name to be changed.
Court, a record 24-time Grand Slam champion, was honoured at the Australian Open last week for the 50th anniversary of her calendar-year Grand Slam.
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McEnroe doubled down on his views about Court.
“There’s only one thing longer than the list of Margaret Court’s tennis achievements: it’s her list of offensive and homophobic statements,” he said on Eurosport. “Just a few examples. During the apartheid regime in South Africa, she said: ‘I love South Africa. They have the racial situation better organised than anyone else.’ What?
“About transgender children and LGBTIQ: ‘It’s all the work of the devil – tennis is full of lesbians. it is sad for children to be exposed to homosexuality’. Serena, do me a favour: get two more grand slams this year and get to 25, so we can leave Margaret Court and her offensive views in the past, where they both belong.”
Navratilova also explained why she took part in the protest.
“It’s just unfortunate because I think what Margaret Court doesn’t realise is how many people she hurts with her rhetoric,” she said. “She can believe whatever she wants but she’s actually hurting people and that’s not OK.”
But Court responded on Tuesday night after giving an interview to Channel 9 news.
“Well, I think they (Tennis Australia) said they were going to honour me but not celebrate me because of my stance and my views on gay marriage and all those areas, which I’ve got nothing against people who are gay,” Court said.
“From the tennis side of it, where they pointed the finger at me and tried to discriminate against everything that I’ve done.
“I always thought I got on quite well with John McEnroe and I’ve always respected him. I feel sorry for him that he speaks like that and that he can’t separate one part of life to another.
“I’d never go to another nation, whatever I thought of the person, I would never say, ‘Hey, you should take their name off a building.’ And I think that was very, very wrong.
“You know, there are a lot of those people who do agree with me.
“I walked around and people touched me on the shoulder and said, ‘Thank you for being my voice.’ I’ve never had one person come and say: ‘I hate you’.
But Court wasn’t given a microphone to speak when she was honoured for the 50th anniversary of her calendary-year Grand Slam, and she thinks she knows why.
“They think because I’m a preacher I’m going to preach the gospel,” Court said.
In a live appearance on Channel 9’s Today show last week, McEnroe admitted there may have been “a better way to do it” but he did not back down from his stance against Court and her views.
“What she said in the past, her comments, to me go over the line of what should be acceptable, in my opinion,” McEnroe said.
Asked what he would specifically tell Court, McEnroe said: “I would say to Margaret that ‘you are a tremendous champion. You should be perfectly entitled to your beliefs.’
“But I would say that (she needs) a little bit more understanding about each and every person’s, you know, the way they live their lives.
“You know, I grew up a Catholic and went to church every week and it was all about guilt. You know, it just made — you know, it made me the way I was.
“It’s not easy. So we all have to be more tolerant. You know, there are some things written thousands of years ago, maybe we can take it with a grain of salt. I can take it with a grain of salt. I can’t remember yesterday.”